What Gardening with My Child Has Taught Me About Love, Nature and the Little Things

I love gardening. I always have and as a nod to National Plant a Flower Day I spent time out in my garden. 

In fact, some of my earliest and most special memories of time spent with my mom include days out in the garden. There are pictures in my baby scrapbook of me as a two-year-old holding a watering can and (most likely) drowning a flower in water. Throughout elementary and high school, I remember planting new flowers each spring around our house, and eagerly awaiting the first signs of tulips shooting out of the snow (I grew up in Minnesota).

There is something so peaceful about gardening.

I love the stillness and quiet, the time away from the busyness of work and just the daily grind of things. It’s in many ways therapeutic too. There’s just something about working with your hands, getting dirty and spending long (sometimes hard) hours outside that can be very fulfilling and satisfying.

I guess it was only natural then that I wanted to share my love of gardening with my son when he was old enough to walk (I didn’t start earlier because he probably would have just crawled around eating the dirt and flowers).

Granted, gardening with a toddler is not always peaceful and quiet. There can be a certain level of stress, in fact, that comes with the territory. I will say that my son loves to be helpful and is always wanting to participate in whatever I’m doing, but that can often equate to spilled bags of dirt, fertilizer being sprinkled who knows where, flowers getting stepped on and more.

But I have learned to go with the flow, to live with a bit of mess, and not worry too much about spilled dirt.

The real reason I want to be out in the garden with my son is twofold: I want gardening to be a part of the many ways in which we bond as mother and son, and I am hoping and praying that gardening can become a means to open my son’s eyes to the wonderful world of nature all around him.

I’m grateful to say that there’s been a bit of success in both those areas so far.

Gardening has now become this “thing” we do together. My son knows the names of the nurseries and stores we go to for flowers. Surprisingly, he’s not impatient or restless while looking at flowers now. In fact, we can actually enjoy some nice conversations about colors and heights and styles as we go up and down aisles. He tells me what he likes and I talk about my favorites too. My son can also identify butterfly bushes and distinguish between lemon and peach trees, among other things. And when we get back home, he knows exactly where the shovels and dirt are in the garage, and he gets right to work on bringing everything to the backyard.

It sounds weird, but those moments make up some of the little ways in which we have grown closer as momma and child. It’s something we do together, and it’s something we can talk about.

But I also think that gardening has increased my son’s love for things outside himself, for things great and small, and with it a greater tendency toward gentleness and kindness.

We have to be very careful when planting a small flower like a snapdragon. We have to be patient in watching the flower slowly grow each day. We have to be diligent in providing daily care for the different plants and trees in our yard.

And, with this daily care and attention, we also get to notice the vibrant life in our garden, from the littlest ladybugs and butterflies to the fast flying hummingbirds. My son has seen them all, and I love seeing his sense of wonder and amazement at these creatures.

I can’t say enough about all the wonderful opportunities and lessons that gardening with my son has afforded us, and one of my promises to him is to continue instilling this love of nature and a care for the world around him as he continues to grow up.

Michelle Reyes
Michelle Ami Reyes (PhD) is a midwest gal at heart, who loves all things football, BBQ, and a really good pair of boots. Having lived in Austin for over 9 years now, she keeps her days busy as a homeschool mom of two and as a cultural intelligence coach. When she's not doing consultant work (or is knee-deep in art projects and history lessons about ancient empires), you can find her reading an epic fantasy novel, doing ridiculously hard puzzles, or cheering on the Vikings. Follow her on Instagram at @michelleamireyes.


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